How do you like your coffee, CGs? With one teaspoon of sugar or two? Do you prefer brown sugar instead of white? What’s the difference between brown and white sugar, anyway? Allow us to break down the different kinds of sugars available to sweeten your life.
When sugar canes arrive from the fields, sugar millers grind and press the canes to extract the sweet juices. The crystals that form in the liquid are called raw sugar granules. After more washing and filtration, the yielding sugar contains about 96% sucrose (pure sucrose is a carbohydrate naturally found in fruits and vegetables) and 4% plant materials (molasses) from the sugar cane or sugar beets. When this is vacuum-dried, the product is raw sugar. It has a golden brown color that comes from the presence of molasses. This raw sugar can be sold and consumed immediately or further processed to produce other types of sugar.
Also known as table sugar or granulated sugar, white sugar is made of almost 100% sucrose with all the molasses removed. At the refinery, a mixture of raw sugar and molasses undergoes further washing and filtration to produce white sugar, the most common type of sugar consumed by households. This pure white sugar can be packed and sold immediately, or may go through another machine to produce different granule sizes, such as white sugar crystals and confectioner’s sugar, also known as powdered sugar.
Not to be confused with raw sugar, brown sugar is refined white sugar that’s mixed with molasses syrup, and then dried again to form brown sugar. The lightness or darkness of the brown sugar depends on the amount of molasses added to it. The more molasses added, the darker the brown sugar, which is why we see different other types available in the market, such as muscovado andturbinado.There’s also coconut sugar, a type of brown sugar extracted from the sap of the coconut palm.
Which is the healthiest?
Molasses contain essential nutrients such as calcium, vitamin B, and magnesium. Brown and raw sugars contain more molasses than white sugar, so technically choosing brown is better. But the amount of essential nutrients found in brown or raw sugar’s molasses is so small that it won’t do much for your required daily nutrients. And because all types of sugars contain about 15 calories per teaspoon, choosing one over the other won’t really have any significant effect in your diet.
In the end, it all boils down to your taste. Do you prefer the caramel-like flavor of brown sugar to the refined sweetness of white? Or are you more into the consistency and darker flavor of muscovado?
Also remember that if you want to stay healthy and lower your risk for diabetes and other diseases, you need to limit your daily sugar intake. The American Heart Association recommends that women take no more than 100 calories of sugar (or 6 teaspoons) of sugar per day. For men, it’s no more than 150 calories (or 9 teaspoons) at most per day. As for those who have underlying health conditions such as diabetes, it’s best to consult your doctor.